Maine Gov. Paul LePage has made a career of making controversial statements — and this latest one is surprising, even by his standards.
On an interview Thursday with WGAN radio, the blustery Republican said he lies to the press in order to call them out on "fake news."
“I just love to sit in my office and make up ways so they’ll write these stupid stories because they are just so stupid, it’s awful,” he said, perhaps with a hint of sarcasm.
It's surprising that LePage made that claim, mostly because last year, he said that he would never again talk to the media. “I will no longer speak to the press ever again after today,” LePage said after he left an expletive-laden voicemail threatening a Democratic lawmaker who criticized him. “And I’m serious. Everything will be put in writing. I am tired of being caught — the gotcha moments.”
LePage's Thursday statements came in the midst of a debate over a budget dispute, which led to LePage threatening to shut down the government. During the stalemate, which ended this week when he signed the state's budget, LePage called two Republican state senators telling them he was going to take a 10-day vacation. LePage told WGAN that he actually said that his pen was on vacation, not he.
That differs from what the Associated Press reported:
Responding to a Freedom of Access Act request, the Senate Republican office produced a voicemail Thursday in which the governor is heard telling Katz, “I’m heading out of town for about 10 days and I’d like to speak to you before I leave. So could you give me a call please? Thank you.”
LePage also graded the "vile and inaccurate" press during his tenure as governor. "It's not about reporting," he said. "It's about poking a certain person in the eye for six and a half years." He also called the press "stupid and awful" and "useless."
LePage added just a hint of Trumpian rhetoric to his diatribe, saying, "the sooner print press goes away the better society will be. They are useless."